The announcement is also important as Nandigram is the constituency of her aide Suvendu Adhikari, who defected to the BJP last month.
“I will contest from Nandigram. It is my lucky place,” Banerjee said, addressing a public meeting in the town for the first time in five years. “Nandigram is my big sister, Bhabanipur is my younger sister... I will fight from both if possible. In case I am unable to contest from Bhabanipur, I promise to give you a good candidate."
Banerjee's campaign to protect farmers’ land from a proposed special economic zone in Nandiram pushed her Trinamool Congress to a landslide victory, ousting the ruling Left Front. In 2007, 14 people were killed in clashes in Nandigram between protesting farmers and the police.
“Several MLAs of Paschim Medinipur are present here. You know much happened in Tekhali – bullets were fired near the bridge, my car was hit by bullets. I was about to die that day on my route to Nandigram in Kolaghat,” said Banerjee. “We entered the guest house by climbing through walls. Every road was blocked to stop me. I went on a bike via villages to Tamluk Hospital. No one can give me lectures on Nandigram movement, I was here.”
Calling Nandigram a place of respect, she said a bridge will be built between Haldia and Nandigram, while Haldia will get a refinery and Chandipur, Nandakumar block will get a Rs 1,500 crore water project that has been sanctioned.
“I love Nandigram, I have never forgotten the martyrs of Nandigram. I will try to be the candidate of both Bhabanipur and Nandigram, I am asking Subrata Bakshi to write my name here. I might not be here all the time because I have to fight 294 seats, but my heart will always be there,” said Banerjee.
The BJP’s in-charge of West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya, reacted to Banerjee’s statement saying it was her fear that she will lose in Bhabanipur that had forced the CM to change her seat.
TMC district president SK Sufiyan, however, told ET that Banerjee will win with a margin of more than 100,000 from Nandigram. “I challenge Suvendu to contest from here. We will make sure he loses his deposit," he said.
Purba Medinipur, where Nandigram is located, is also the stronghold of Adhikari's family, which has had influence in at least three of the 16 seats in the district for many years. Trinamool Congress had recently removed Adhikari’s father, Sisir Adhikari, as East Midnapore district president.
Suvendu reacted sharply to the CM's announcement. “Mamata has remembered Nandigram only during elections. What has she done for Nandigram? This place will never forgive her,” he said at a rally on Monday. “You, your corrupt nephew and your ‘private limited’ can make announcements. But you will lose Nandigram by over half a lakh votes, or else I will quit politics. Whether it be me or anyone whom the BJP chooses to contest from Nandigram, will beat Mamata by over half lakh votes.”
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